Air Monitors Ltd.
Air Monitors Ltd.

New ‘hyperlocal’ air quality network for London

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Source: Air Monitors Ltd.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has launched a new, street-by-street monitoring system that will help to improve that capital’s air quality. From July 2018, and operating for a year, London will benefit from what is being described as the world’s most sophisticated air quality monitoring system. A consortium involving academia, an environmental charity, and commercial partners will install a network of 100 multiparameter AQMesh air quality monitors, whilst also operating two Google Street View cars that will map air pollution at an unprecedented level of detail.

Air Monitors Ltd (Tewkesbury) will supply the AQMesh pods and a comprehensive suite of analysers that will be fitted to the Google Street View cars. In addition, Air Monitors will be responsible for the wireless collection of data, so that air quality can be visualised and mapped in almost real-time. Working closely with the Greater London Authority, the project will be run by a team of air quality experts led by the charity Environmental Defense Fund Europe, in partnership with Air Monitors Ltd., Google Earth Outreach, Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants, University of Cambridge, National Physical Laboratory, King’s College London and the Environmental Defense Fund team in the United States.

Air Monitors Managing Director Jim Mills says: “It is difficult to underestimate the importance of this project – traditional monitoring networks provide essential information to check compliance against air quality standards, but this network will be ‘hyperlocal’ by which we mean that it will deliver street-level air quality data, which will be of tremendous interest to the public and also enable the effective assessment of air quality interventions.

“The Google Street View cars will take readings every 30 meters, helping us to find pollution hot-spots, so that AQMesh pods can be positioned in these locations. However, the pods are wireless and battery-powered, so they can also be quickly and easily fixed to lamp posts in other sensitive locations such as schools.”

In addition to nitrogen dioxide and particulates, which are the pollutants of greatest concern, the pods will also measure ozone, nitric oxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, humidity and pressure. Data will be automatically transmitted to Air Monitors’ cloud-based data management system, which can be accessed by PC, tablet or smartphone.

The monitoring data will provide baseline air quality data that will be essential in the assessment of mitigation measures, particularly in London’s expanding ultra-low emission zone. For example, on 20th June 2018, Sadiq Khan, announced the creation of the largest double-decker electric bus fleet in Europe, and the new monitoring network will enable the assessment of this initiative’s impact on air quality.

“This project will provide a step change in data collection and analysis that will enable London to evaluate the impact of both air quality and climate change policies and develop responsive interventions,” said Executive Director for Environmental Defense Fund Europe, Baroness Bryony Worthington.  “A clear output of the project will be a revolutionary air monitoring model and intervention approach that can be replicated cost-effectively across other UK cities and globally, with a focus on C40 cities.”

Mark Watts, C40, Executive Director said: “Almost every major city in the world is dealing with the threat of toxic air pollution, which is taking an incredible toll on the health of citizens, public finances, quality of life and contributing to climate change. London is already a world leader in responding to this global threat and with this initiative it will set a new global standard for how street level air quality monitoring can inform strategic policy making. Cities across the C40 network and around the world will be watching closely to understand how this monitoring can deliver cleaner air for their citizens.”

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